#BookReview 4.5* Rivals Of The Republic by @afreisenbruch @Duckbooks (UK)#TheBloodOfRome #Series @overlookpress (USA)

*I received a paperback copy via Duck books (UK) publishers in return for an honest review*

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Rivals Of The Republic by Annelise Freisenbruch
Synopsis:

Using her supreme knowledge of the period, author Annelise Freisenbruch presents the great new heroine of historical fiction, Hortensia, who must navigate the male-dominated courts of law in her quest to uncover a sinister plot to overthrow the Republic. Drawing from historical accounts of the daughter of famed Roman orator Quintus Hortensius Hortalus, Freisenbruch delivers an atmospheric, meticulously accurate and fast-paced story that will have readers craving more. Rome, 70BC. Roman high society hums with gossip about the suspicious suicide of a prominent Roman senator and the body of a Vestal Virgin is discovered in the river Tiber. As the authorities turn a blind eye, Hortensia is moved to investigate a trail of murders that appear to lead straight to the dark heart of the Eternal City.

My Review:

This novel has is it all, the atmosphere, crime, scandal, life and death of Ancient Roman era. The characters are well written and the plot incredibly appealing to me.
I am a huge fan of historical crime fiction.

Rome 70 BC

The novel opens with Hortensia and her brother Quintus at a gladiator arena. They are saved by a gladiator called Hannibal The Conqueror from a crocodile. When he later loses his fight Hortensia urges her father, a wealthy lawyer to buy him as a slave due to his earlier heroics.
Hannbel’s real name is Lucrio and he will, come to mean so much more to Horetensia than she can ever imagine……..

Hortensia’s father is a prominent wealthy lawyer, in Rome. She is his favoured child and for this reason he agrees to allow her to marry for love. Something unheard of for the era. Hortensia chooses to marry her second cousin, Caepio and they move into their own accommodation. Taking Lucrio with them, but Lucrio has secrets of his own and a deep seated need for vengeance…..

As the novel develops, Hortensia feels compelled to help Drusilla, at court with the case of stolen dowry and her children’s custody. This gives Hortensia a voice for the first time, something virtually unheard of in Roman society! Her father is furious with her, for creating a potential scandal. He forbids her from any future such endeavours.
But then Hortensia is summoned to the temple of vesta.

The chief vestal informs her that a body has recently been found and they believe that the vestal virgin was murdered. Documents have either been removed, or forged and this could have an impact on Roman society as a whole. The victim managed to write the words Pomey M at the scene before her death. We learn more about Lucrio’s background and why he is seeking revenge. But it isn’t until he is backed into a corner that he confesses to Hortensia. At this moment, they realise that despite their positions in society.
They must work together to solve the case of the murdered vestal virgin.
4.5*

***** This novel is perfect for fans of the BBC TV show Rome! I was a huge fan of this series and this novel is very reminiscent.*****

AF

Annelise Freisenbruch
Authors links:
Website: http://www.annelisefreisenbruch.co.uk/
Twitter: @afreisenbruch
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3412996.Annelise_Freisenbruch

*A huge thank you to the author & Duck books for my copy and I look forward to the next in the blood of Rome series!*

#Review 4.5* Midnight In Berlin by @jamesmac1x @Duckbooks #WW2Fiction #HistoricalFiction

*I received an paperback copy in return for an honest review*

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Midnight In Berlin by James MacManus
Synopsis:
Berlin, 1938. Newly-appointed military attaché Noel Macrae and his extrovert wife Primrose arrive at the British Embassy. Prime Minister Chamberlain is intent on placating Nazi Germany, but Macrae is less so. Convinced that Hitler can be stopped by other means than appeasement, he soon finds that he is not the only dissenting voice in the Embassy, and discovers senior officers in the German military who are prepared to turn against the Führer.
Gathering vital intelligence, Macrae is drawn to Kitty Schmidt’s Salon (a Nazi bordello) and its enigmatic Jewish hostess Sara Sternschein—a favourite of sadistic Gestapo boss Reinhard Heydrich. Sara is a treasure-trove of knowledge about the Nazi hierarchy in a city of lies, spies and secrets. Does she hold the key to thwarting Hitler or is Macrae just being manipulated by her, while his wife romantically pursues his most important German military contact, Florian Koenig?
MacManus’s absorbing new novel evokes a time and place when the personal and political stakes could not be higher, and where the urge for peaceful compromise conflicts with higher ideals and a vicious regime bent on war. As loyalties are stretched to the limit and Europe slides towards another war, could just one act of great courage and sacrifice change everything?

My review:

This novel is ww2 fiction at its finest! It is rich in its content and character depth. I also think it would suit the reader who may lack the factual ww2 knowledge. As it is fully expanded upon. The factual and historical accuracy is superb! The central allied characters are likable and the Nazi characters are portrayed very much, on point with what we have come to know now, post ww2.

Colonel Noel Macrae and wife Primrose arrive at the British embassy in Berlin, to a new posting and new life. Only neither of them can predict how much, their time in Berlin will ultimately change who they are……

Macrae will begin work alongside Roger Halliday and David Buckland. They work for the ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson. The ambassador is a weak man, having spent far too long in Germany, cosying up to the Nazi elite. Nevile believes Germany and Hitler, do not want another war and that this is mere speculation. An evening meal is organised and they are warned to stay away from hotel Adlon. Where the journalist and racketeers thrive.
But what kind of diplomat, heeds every word of their bosses?

“There is always a price to pay for Peace” Nevile

The novel explores Macrae’s background and marriage. We learn that he is an experienced soldier in ww1 and is sniper trained. We also learn he has significant marital problems, with his wife stating they should each embark on affairs.
It isn’t long until Macrae is drawn to the Adlon.

At the Adlon, Macrae makes an acquaintance of Shirer an American journalist with CBS. He explores Berlin and the surrounding governmental buildings. I found that pre-war Berlin was brought alive on the page and that it felt very atmospheric, if not eerie to read. Through conversations with Halliday and Macrae’s old friend German Colonel Koening. We learn that Hitler is planning a military coup, to establish complete control of the military. Hitler is planning a purge.
But why would Hitler plan a purge, if he is not really to go to war?

Across town in Berlin, Joachim Bonner, Herdrich’s #2 is partly running the salon Kitty. A brothel disguised as a restaurant, where the sole attraction is Sara Sternschein. Sara was a university law student, until Hitler took power and ended her life as she knew it. She is now forced to be a prostitute at the salon. The Nazi’s coerced her into the role, with threats against her brother (Joseph being held at Buchenwald) and her mother. They use Sara, to literally turn ‘tricks’ on Nazi Elite. Enabling Heydrich to always stay one step ahead, of any competition. The chapters with her in, are sinister and eerie, the fact that she is so unemotional in her response to her plight, broke my heart!

“You know I always obey orders” Sara

When the military coup, becomes fact, Macrae is faced with informing the UK government. Nevile still persistent in his beliefs that this is not necessarily an act of war. I found Nevile very frustrating, but is this because I have the forth sight Nevile never could have had?

The history around this particular year, is fully detailed within the novel. We witness the effects of Hitler’s actions on all of the staff at the British embassy.
It isn’t long until Macrae, Halliday and Koening are plotting………

“I don’t want to be here. I can’t stand the place. It’s evil” Macrae

Bonner decides to have Sara turn her ‘trick’ on Macrae. But he hasn’t taken into account Sara’s own plotting. Life faced with ‘servicing’ the Nazi elite, must have been daily physical and emotional torture. Then Macrae and Sara finally meet………..

This novel really is an education on the ww2 era. The secrecy, lies and desperation for information, flows from the page.
This novel brings Berlin to life!
4.5*

JM
James MacManus
Authors links:
Website: http://www.jamesmacmanus.com/
Twitter: @jamesmac1x
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1250590.James_MacManus
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesMacManusAuthor/

 

 

#BlogTour #Review #DangerousCrossing by Rachel Rhys @MsTamarCohen @TransworldBooks #HistFic

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Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys
Synopsis:
England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

My review:

This novel is set on-board a vessel departing England for Australia. The era is 1939 and the second world war looms in the background throughout the novel. I found the novel to be an intricate story of some of the passengers on-board and their relationships with one another. At times I did long for more tension and drama. But this is the 1930s and tension/drama is named as scandal and the novel is packed full of 1930s scandals………

Lillian ‘Lily’ Shepherd is a young woman, coming of age. She leaves behind some dark secrets in England and a family that loves her. She is departing on the Orontes ship for two years’ domestic servitude. Travelling in a third class cabin in F deck, which will be shared with three others and Mrs Collins as their appointed official to accompany the young women.
I got the real sense that Lily was running away from something and her past is interwoven into the plot.

“it’s only two years, remember? I’ll be home before you know it” Lily Shepherd

On-board the ship, Lily meets a wealth of characters and these form the basis of the plot and build the novel to its fantastic ending! Clara and Peggy Mills are a mother and daughter travelling alone. Edward and Helena Fletcher are also a brother and sister traveling to a new life. George Price is heading to New Zealand, his wealthy father wanting to avoid his sole heir being called up to ww2. Lily also meet the elusive and mysterious married couple Eliza and Max Campbell. The Campbell’s are currently first class passengers but enjoying mixing with others, due to a secret in their past. Maria Kats is an Austrian Jewish woman, fleeing for her life, she is disliked by the others but Lily refuses to be ‘told’ with whom she can be friends.

Lily is warned many times that the Campbell’s are dangerous and it isn’t until she starts to witness it with her own eyes, she sees just how much. Ida, one of the other young women leaving for a life of servitude, warns Lily about soiling her reputation. But Lily remains firm, she will decide for herself who her friends are. On-board with illness rife and being in such close proximity to one another. The characters begin to share their secrets and lies, taking one another in confidence.
For one of the group, this shall have deadly consequences………..

When Maria is assaulted, we see a change in the dynamics. Some of the group and the captain show clear disdain for people of the Jewish faith. With George even, going as far, as saying he agrees with Hitler’s attitudes towards Jews. I found this quite shocking! But how they judge each other on the basis of gender, faith and class, is entirely accurate with the era, sadly. The Campbell’s past unravels slowly and we the reader are exposed to scandal after scandal. It’s quite clear the Campbell’s revel in the drama and intrigue of the scandals they create. I found them fascinating as characters, but dreadful as people.

“Damaged people are dangerous people” Ian Jones

Australian natives Ian Jones and his fellow engineers are introduced to the story. It was interesting to read how the group responded to them and they to the group. The gossip and speculation is rife throughout the story. There’s an abject level of snobbery throughout the passengers for various reasons. It builds and builds to a strange, yet engrossing ending, that most readers will NOT spot coming!

I enjoyed this novel and felt the portrayal of characters and the historical accuracy for the era were fabulous. I would definitely read another historical crime fiction novel by the author. The central characters all have depth and Lily as a protagonist is believable and likeable.
I really warmed to Lily throughout the novel. The rose amongst the thorns! 4*

“Lily, do you ever feel as if you only exit when you see yourself reflected back in somebody else’s eyes?” Eliza Campbell.

Q&A with @AndrewTurpin #Author of #TheLastNazi #ww2Fiction #HistFic

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The Last Nazi by Andrew Turpin
Synopsis:

The buried contents of a Nazi train. An aging SS mass-murderer. And the wartime secrets of a U.S. presidential hopeful’s Jewish family, hidden for seven decades.
War crimes investigator and ex-CIA officer Joe Johnson is more than intrigued when he learns of a link between the contents of a Nazi train, hidden by Hitler’s Third Reich, a ruthless blackmail plot, and financing for a U.S. presidential hopeful’s 2012 campaign.
But the investigation becomes bigger and more deeply personal than Johnson expects when it leads him toward an SS Holocaust killer who escaped his net years earlier, and propels him into a deadly conflict.
Soon there are high-level intelligence and criminal networks combining against Johnson across three continents.
He finds himself inextricably caught up in a terrifying quest to win justice, to avenge his mother’s tortured past and revive his flagging career.
With dramatic settings, explosive action and characters readers will come to love, The Last Nazi is a gripping full-length thriller—the first in a forthcoming series featuring Joe Johnson.

Q&A:

Q) The protagonist Joe Johnson, has a past and this is interwoven into the story. Can you tell us a little more about Joe?

A) Joe is a war crimes investigator who runs his own freelance business, based in Portland, Maine. Years ago, he worked for the CIA in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was fired after an operation went wrong and a badly timed affair, and then he did a long stint from 1992-2006 with the U.S. Government’s Office of Special Investigations, part of the Department of Justice – basically its Nazi-hunting unit. We meet him in 2011 at a time when he’s had a tough few years bringing up his two teenage children after the death of his wife in 2005, and when career-wise, he’s itching for a new challenge after spending a lot of time on “small-town” investigative jobs. So when he gets a lead with a possible Nazi linkage, he jumps at it. He’s a determined character with a strong desire to bring to justice those who have committed some of the worst kinds of crime – atrocities dating back years, often with sectarian and racist roots. He’s not afraid to take on senior politicians and intelligence organizations, who sometimes have vested interests in keeping these types of offenses hidden under the carpet. Part of his motivation stems from his mother, who suffered in a concentration camp during the Second World War.

Q) I am a complete ww2 nerd, the era, the fiction etc. What drew you to write about the era?

A) I’m fascinated by some of the big picture themes that were played out during that time and in the years that followed, many of which we have seen repeated many times over history. There is a fascination to the tussle between good and evil, the shades of grey in between, and the moral ambiguities and compromises that were made by many world leaders and their subordinates in the pursuit of power and influence as the cornerstones of what became the Cold War were put in place. And I’m interested by some of the questions thrown off from this and other wars: what drives sectarian and religious conflict and how could a nation’s population fall in so readily behind someone like Hitler? I guess the parallels to the present day, when leaders such as Donald Trump are dividing opinions so sharply, are there for everyone to see and forces us to take a fresh look at history.

Q) The novel focuses on the discovery of the contents of a Nazi train. Was this inspired by a real-life event?

A) It was in part! When I was planning the novel, in late 2015, there was a lot of media attention on the possibility that a Nazi train containing gold and jewellery that had been looted by Hitler’s Third Reich from across Europe was hidden in secret tunnels beneath Książ Castle, in Walbrzych, Poland. Then a few months later, the historian Dan Snow did a BBC documentary about it. Search teams have so far come up with nothing. However, I started reading up on the extensive tunnel complexes in that area, which were built by the Nazis using mainly Jewish labour from concentration camps. It triggered a “what if?” moment, which rapidly took the thoughts around my plot in a new direction. I had been looking for plot and protagonist ideas that would enable me to link together historical events and current affairs, and that crystallised things for me quite significantly.

Q) The novels evil character is a SS holocaust kill and mass murderer. Is it difficult to write such dark characters?

A) It’s difficult on multiple levels. Firstly, it requires significant research to build a character’s backstory and CV that is as plausible as possible, and to portray the person’s actions in a way that might fit with those of a real-life SS officer at that time. Secondly, there is the question of motivation. I found it just as interesting to focus on the impact on the SS man’s son of having a father like that. How would it feel to have a dad who had done such unspeakable things in the past, and how could it be possible to build any kind of real relationship with such a person? I found it a real challenge – and I’m not at all sure how well I did it!

Q) What is your research process? Have you uncovered anything that shocked you?

A) I spent a lot of time reading online, trawling through documents and going through various books, both non-fiction and fiction. The horrors of daily life in the concentration camps were something that I had read about before, but coming back to it afresh, and finding some new first-hand accounts by survivors was quite emotive. I was also astonished at the extent to which the U.S. intelligence networks collaborated with ex-Nazis after the Second World War, offering protection in exchange for information about the Russians in particular. I was vaguely aware that it had happened, but the numbers of ex-Nazis who were given safe haven in the U.S. after the war came as a real eye-opener.

A theme that I am likely to weave into the Joe Johnson series is around the futility and counter-productive nature of sectarian and religious conflict and the wars that ensue from that. And then the search for truth, justice and forgiveness that has to be pursued to the maximum, even if it takes years or decades to do so. For example, I’m certain that will be the case in Syria, as it has been in other theatres of war. It is the responsibility of political leaders to counter such forces, not fuel them.

Q) The novel is split between a 1944 setting and the modern day. Is it difficult to write between two eras? What are the challenges faced?

A) I was keen to write a novel primarily set in the present day. So the challenge was to find a way of pulling in characters and events from almost seventy years earlier without them getting in the way of the plot and slowing the pace of what is intended to be a reasonably fast-paced modern thriller. I used various devices, including documents, Nazi party files, memoirs and diaries, as well as flashbacks. I found myself over-writing the memoirs/diaries in the early drafts, particularly the recollections of life in Wüstegiersdorf concentration camp by Joe Johnson’s mother and by the two Polish Jewish brothers, Daniel and Jacob Kudrow. So I ended up cutting those back significantly – in many ways I was sorry to do this, but I think it did improve the pacing. No doubt readers will give me a view on this!

Q) What are your favourite ww2 fiction novels?

A) Those I have most enjoyed are thrillers set in the real world, and against a backdrop of true or plausible events or scenarios. Some of those on my shelf include Robert Harris’s Enigma, Sebastian Faulks’s Charlotte Gray, Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle.

Q) Finally, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

A) I’m 52, married with two teenage children, and we live in St Albans, around 20 miles north of London. I’ve always had a love of writing, history, current affairs and research, and I spent several years as a business journalist with newspapers including The Scotsman, working mostly in London. I switched into corporate PR in 2002, and worked for three large energy companies, which was interesting. Then when I was made redundant, I decided to have a go at writing a novel, which was something I’d always wanted to try, but had never done. The Last Nazi is the product of that.

I’m originally from Grantham, in Lincolnshire. I studied history at Loughborough University. I love playing and watching cricket and listening to music of various types, and I like traveling. I once hitch-hiked across the Sahara from Morocco and Algeria down to Niger, back in the days when it was safer to do that kind of thing and I was more reckless.

 *Huge thanks for taking part in a Q&A on my blog! I wish you every success with your novel.

AT
Andrew Turpin
Authors Links:
E-mail: andrew@andrewturpin.com
Website: www.andrewturpin.com
Facebook: @AndrewTurpinAuthor
Twitter: @AndrewTurpin

Author bio:
Andrew is a former journalist who has always had a love of writing and a passion for reading good thrillers. Now he has finally put the two interests together. His first book, The Last Nazi, has now been published, and he has a second, The Old Bridge, in the advanced stages of editing. The themes behind these thrillers also pull together some of Andrew’s other interests, particularly history, world news, and travel. They explore the ways in which events and human behaviors deep into the past continue to impact on modern society, politics and business.  The Last Nazi draws strongly on these themes. It is the first in a planned series of thrillers featuring the protagonist, Joe Johnson, an ex-CIA officer and former U.S. Nazi hunter with the Office of Special Investigations, part of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Johnson has a passion for justice and a drive to investigate unsolved war crimes in different parts of the world. Andrew studied history at Loughborough University and worked for many years as a business and financial journalist before becoming a corporate and financial communications adviser with several large energy companies. He originally came from Grantham, Lincolnshire, and lives with his family in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, U.K.

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The Last Nazi is available free to Kindle Unlimited members or for the Ebook price of just 99p! #Bargain

 

 

#BlogTour #TheWaitingHours by #EllieDean #Review @arrowpublishing #Cliffehaven

The Waiting Hours Jacket
The waiting Hours by Ellie Dean
Synopsis:

Slapton Sands, 1943

War has not been kind to Carol Porter. It took her husband and baby, and with them her heart. At last she’s found some peace, working as a land girl at Coombe Farm. But Carol’s sanctuary, the whole local area in fact, is about to be disrupted.

When Pauline Reilly hears Carol’s news she’s worried for her little sister. But as rumours about Slapton Sands reach Cliffehaven, Pauline can’t help be more concerned for her only surviving son. And despite her sister-in-law Peggy’s best efforts, nothing soothes Pauline’s fears.

As Carol prepares to face the impending upheaval alone her beloved mother, Dolly, swoops in to Slapton, and packing up Carol’s life presents unexpected opportunities for them both: Carol looks to her future while Dolly confronts a ghost from her past, and they both have a chance to mend their broken hearts.

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My review:

An engaging WW2 saga, about love, loss and family! The year is 1943, with the novel actually building up to the events of Christmas 1943 and right through to D-Day invasions. Although not a Christmas novel, the fact that it covers the Christmas period in-depth means, it would make for the perfect Christmas gift!

Carol Porter knows the pain and hardships WW2 can bring to innocent civilians, having lost both her husband and baby. She is alone in her grief and sets out to become a land girl, in an effort to channel her pain. Carol starts work at the Coombe farm, ran by the Burnley family. Cantankerous yet loveable Jack Burnley and his battle-axe wife Millicent. The work is hard and makes for long days of manual labour. The other land girls Maisie, Pru and Ida at only 21yrs old, have fled London after their homes were destroyed in the bombings. Carol is a lonely character, that you often pity and admire in equal measure. But carol has family and they make for quite the multitude of characters themselves…..

Carol’s mother Dolly, is quite an unusual woman. Known for her fur coats, high heels and glamourous lifestyle. But what Dolly’s daughters don’t know, is that she secretly works for the SOE and is involved in missions relating to operation overlord. Upon hearing of the requisition of Slapton Sands and knowing Carol’s house stands to be taken over by American forces. Dolly descends upon Slapton Sands.
But there is a mysterious American who means both betrayal and love to Dolly that she wishes to avoid at all costs!

Carol’s sister Peggy lives locally at Cliffehaven with her husband Jim, daughters Daisy, Cissy and Anne, sons Bob and Charlie. She is a family orientated woman, who is a ray of sunshine bring love and warmth to everyone she meets. She is often the closest protector of her sister-in-law Pauline. Pauline having experienced the loss of two of her sons in the war and with a husband and surviving son still serving, is awash with nerves and worry!

American General Felix Addmington and his British Sgt Cornwallis arrive in Slapton Sands to a very cool/uneasy welcoming. The locals don’t want to be forced out of their homes and cannot gather the importance at the mission being created around them due to its top secret nature.
Can Felix win over the locals?
Why does Dolly avoid Felix like the plague?

At times the novel felt overly descriptive and I felt it needed some tweaks on historical accuracy. But it is a saga and therefore, to be told from the character’s point of view. Which it does incredibly well.

There is a wealth of characters from all ages, that resonate with the reader. The relationships and the impact of the war is always at the forefront of the story. The Devonshire setting adds to the location, giving of a ‘local’ feel to the way the characters interact with one another. The moment when Pauline waves off her surviving son Brendon to war, I felt tears sting my eyes. It reminded me of my grandmother (90yrs old) telling me “that every mother on her street, lost a son in the war”.
The characters feel real and authentic, you root for them and the various troubles the face! 4*

Ellie Dean
Ellie Dean
To find out more about the author and her novels visit her website:
http://www.ellie-dean.co.uk/index.htm

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*If you follow @arrowpublishing via Twitter, tomorrow they are hosting a #Giveaway for the novel!